The Dangerous Fate of Those Who Live and Die without Christ

Have you ever been out hiking in the woods and gotten lost? It’s a terrible feeling. The problem with being lost in the woods is that you are lost before you realize you are lost. It is only at the realization of being lost that first, you become concerned and second, you attempt to do something about it.

The Scriptures teach that a person is spiritually lost when they have not experienced the new spiritual birth through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, NKJV). The apostles Peter and John said this about the necessity of Jesus Christ for salvation, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV). That rules out any other way for the spiritually lost to become found.

One of the great issues with those who are without Christ is that they do not know they are lost. Just like walking through the woods and not realizing you are off track, most people today do not know they are in eternal jeopardy. This is why we need to engage them in spiritual conversations. Get them to articulate what they believe. If they believe something that is not according to the Bible, ask them where they came up with that belief. Your conversation, while it may not immediately convince them to turn to Christ, it should cause them to think about their beliefs and if these beliefs are valid. The next thing you do then is ask permission to share what the Bible has to say about the matter. Ask, “Would you mind if I shared with you what the Bible says about this?” You’re not at this point asking them to believe it, but you are asking them to listen and evaluate it.

But why go to all this trouble? We do it because of their fate. If we really believe Jesus is the only Savior, and we do, then logically we should do all that we can to bring the ones to love to see that Savior and accept him. That is what love does.

Here’s how the Bible describes those without Christ.

  • Dead in transgressions and sins – Ephesians 2:1
  • Objects of divine wrath – Ephesians 2:3
  • Separated from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel, strangers to the covenant of promise, without hope and without God in the world – Ephesians 2:12.
  • A sinful mind that leads to death, hostile to God, and controlled by the sinful nature – Romans 8:6-7
  • God’s wrath is upon them – John 3:36.
  • They will be separated from God and heaven for all eternity – Matthew 13:49-50.

This is their state before God. It doesn’t matter how much money they have. It doesn’t matter how they look or how much other success they may achieve. A person can have all that the world offers and calls good, but without surrendering to the Lordship of Christ, they will be lost in this life and then lost forever in eternity. So what if someone makes it to the top of the ladder. If it’s the wrong ladder they have wasted their life.

Someone may have brought you the gospel of Christ and you accepted it. For your sake and for the sake of those around us, we to ponder the dangerous and tragic fate of those who live and die without Christ. Love should motivate us to do all we can to bring them to Christ.

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Share Your Salvation Story Online for Free!

Many Christians would like to be more effective in sharing their salvation story. Many Christians today are also using social media, like Facebook. What if you could place your salvation story and the gospel on the web and also connect it to whatever social media you use? Wouldn’t that be great?

People could see your story, read or watch a gospel presentation and communicate back to you through email or Facebook messaging. It is easy, non confrontational, effective and fun. You can even know when someone is viewing your story and see how many have viewed your story.

Is this something you would like to do? If so, keep reading.

The MostImportantThing site is designed for this. You can use it even if you don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account. But if you have these, it is a lot more fun and interactive. Here’s what to do.

  1. Go to the page that has some great tips on how to write your story. Click here.
  2. If you need an example, you can look at my story. I begin by sharing my search for meaning. Click here.
  3. Fill out the form to submit your salvation story. Click here.
    • You can link your church or ministry website.
    • If you want others to connect with you through Facebook, be sure to follow the instructions for that feature. You can always contact us if you have questions. For questions click here.
    • You can also allow someone to connect with you through email. They will know know your email address unless you respond to them.
    • You can also submit a photo with your story. I highly recommend this. It makes your story more readable and memorable. If you are not that familiar to the person, the picture will help them remember you.
    • At the end of the form, make sure you click on the “submit your story” button.
    • IMPORTANT! Your story will not be live on the site until the MostImportantThing staff has approved it. So be patient a day or two.
  4. If you have a Facebook account, click on the Facebook icon at the top of the MostImportantThing.org page and “like” the MostImportantThing Facebook page. This will allow new testimonies we promote to appear in the news feed of your Facebook account. To share these stories with your friends, just click the “share” option on the testimony when it appears in your news feed. That will then move it to your wall. You can even write a comment. It’s that simple!

If you would like to do even more to reach others with the good news of Jesus, then check this out below.

  1. Order MostImportantThing webcards to give away to people wherever you go. You can leave them with a tip at a restaurant. Give one to someone you have just met. Hand them to friends wherever you go. Give them to the cashiers at stores. Send one in a letter/card or a bill that is put in the mail. You can order 6 different kinds. To go to the page with these resources, click here.
  2. You can also send out free e-cards for your story and the MostImportantThing.org to your friends through email. Check them out by clicking here.
  3. Order CROSS Evangelism Training materials (Leader DVD Guide and Participant Guide) and take the full course. The MostImportantThing site is just one of six ways you can learn to share your story and the gospel story of Christ. View the informational video. Click here. To order the materials, click here.
  4. Consider also learning how to more effectively take opportunities to share Christ in your daily life. RELAY: Sharing Your Faith Your Way is another excellent resource that will help in relaying your faith to others. To see the info video and testimonial videos, click here.

Any questions or comments, make them on the blog  or here and we’ll get back to you. Now lets get busy and do some sharing of our faith in Christ in a new and intentional way.

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The Greatest Internal Motivations for Sharing Christ

Jesus Christ

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The first and greatest internal motivation for sharing your faith is in a previous article.

The second internal motivation is your desire to live a responsible life honoring God. You want to share your faith because you are overwhelmed with gratitude for what Christ did for you and you realize you have a responsibility to live a life pleasing to God.

Jesus said in John 8:29, “I always do what pleases Him.” Paul wrote to the Colossians “We are asking … that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9a,10).

Paul disciplined himself in the “race” of the Christian life so that after preaching to others he would not be disqualified. He wrote, “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NKJV).

A time will come when you are either qualified or disqualified in your “race.” The apostle Paul again wrote: “… We make it our aim to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:9-11). This judgment is separate from salvation. You and I will account for how we spent our lives in His service.

Paul wasn’t willing to take the easy way out. He knew he had a responsibility to the Lord to relay the gospel. He also knew that this would involve some difficult times because of it. At the end of his life, Paul could say he had lived the one life he had in honor of God.

Jesus used parables to teach we are responsible for how we live our lives. In His parable of the talents, found in Matthew 25:14-30, a master returned to settle accounts with his servants. These servants were given a responsibility and knew that, sooner or later, the master would call them to account. Your Lord left you with the most important message in the history of mankind and the greatest gift of all eternity. You will account for how you shared this gift of the gospel for which He shed His blood.

The early church took seriously their responsibility to live every day in light of eternity. They were conscious that every deed––or lack of––would fall under the Lord’s scrutiny. This is the second personal reason why you want to be sharing your faith: responsibility.

A third powerful motivation to relay your faith to others is your concern for the fate of those who do not know God. When you understand the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, you develop a deeper appreciation of not only your past need of salvation but also the current need of people you know and love. You will be motivated to relay your faith to others.

At Zacchaeus’ home, Jesus announced the purpose of His life: “… To seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus also declared His exclusive claim to be the only way to salvation: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:10). By his own words, Jesus effectively eliminated all other ways to becoming right with God and going to heaven.

This claim of Christ may sound intolerant today, but it has nothing to do with tolerance. Tolerance is the ability to be patient and fair, but we are talking about truth. I can be tolerant with you if you think two plus two equals ten, but a teacher worth his pay will try to convince you it’s not the right answer. Is it intolerant to tell you the truth?

The mistake people make in calling Christians intolerant is they assume all faiths are equal. This is not any truer than “two plus two equals ten.” Either Jesus was who He said He was or He was not. There is no middle ground. A person must choose.

Jesus rules out all other ways to salvation. According to Jesus, mankind is divided into two groups: those who accept Him as the way to God and those who do not. The Bible says there is a broad way that leads to destruction and a narrow way that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). There is no third option. The people of the human race are described as sheep or goats (Matthew 25:33-46), wheat or weeds (Matthew 13:24-30), wise or foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13); those who came to the wedding banquet and those who chose to remain outside (Matthew 22:1-14). Either you know Him or you don’t.

You might try to create another option. A person might look for a third option, but Jesus has not given it to us. The problem of Christianity today is much as it was in the second century. By choosing Christ, you deny all other gods and rival commitments. He is Plan A; there is no Plan B. He is the only hope for the world.

If all this is true––and Christians certainly believe it is––then we must deal with the implications of the truth. If you actually believe there is no hope for salvation outside of Christ, how could you not be gripped with a compulsion to bring everyone to this only way of salvation? Human beings have a natural concern for a fellow human being in danger. This should be a driving motivation in your witness.

The three personal reasons for sharing your faith center around the depth of your appreciation for what God had done for you, recognizing your responsibility to live a life honoring to Him, and your concern for the fate of those who have not yet received the message of hope and salvation.

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The Greatest Motivation for Sharing Your Faith

Gratitude , The Tall Ships' Races, Szczecin 2007

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The Bible says each of us was helpless in our sin before we came to Christ. You were doomed to a life “… with no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12b). Whether you sinned on purpose or not, you were guilty. You had a death sentence on your life. You were a prisoner of sin and there was no freedom or hope to be found.

You began to appreciate your condition when you realized that the “… wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). You understood that your sinful words, deeds, and attitudes amounted to spitting in God’s face. But God didn’t treat you the way you deserved to be treated. He did something infinitely greater than what Captain Miller did for Private Ryan.

The Bible says it this way: “For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:7-8). It goes on to say, “For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!” (Romans 5:10). God makes you right with Himself, and He is the one paying the price. His love so motivated Him, that he made us right even when we were his enemies, fighting against him and against his work in our lives.

Appreciating your need for forgiveness leads to a loving appreciation, a gratitude, for what God did through Jesus death on the cross.

The apostle Paul is the ultimate example of this. Paul never got over the wonder of his salvation. He had many reasons to be proud. As a Jew, he had the right heritage, education, and vocation. He even had kept the outward requirements of the Jewish law. But all these accomplishments meant nothing to him compared to what he had found in Christ. Paul wrote: “… But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).

Paul was able to appreciate what he had in Christ because he remembered his former life. He knew where he would be without Jesus Christ. He wrote to his disciple, Timothy: “I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry—one who was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man …. And the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:12-14). It takes humility to remember where you have come from and to whom you owe where you are today.

Paul remembered what he was before he met Christ, and he knew the tremendous price God paid to bring salvation to him. He was overwhelmed at the love of God. It changed the way he viewed himself and the world. He wrote: “But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). He so appreciated what Christ had done that it became the sole focus of all his ambition. This loving appreciation, this gratitude to God would be his greatest motivation for sharing his faith.

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Appreciating the Gospel of Christ

Saving Private Ryan

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Steven Spielberg’s WW II movie, “Saving Private Ryan,” is the profoundly moving story of a squad of soldiers sent on a mission deep into a battle zone to bring out a young paratrooper, Private James Ryan, whose three brothers had been killed in battle. The army’s chief of staff, General George C. Marshall, had personally ordered Private Ryan sent home to his mother because he thought three sons were enough for any mother to contribute to the war.

The squad leader, Captain John Miller, and half of his squad gave their lives in the mission to bring Ryan home. As he sat propped up against a bombed out car on a bridge, Miller’s dying words to Ryan were, “Earn this.” The scene switches to 1998, as a much older Ryan falls to his knees at Miller’s grave and tearfully chokes out these words: “Every day I think about what you said to me on that bridge. I’ve tried to live my life the best I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that at least in your eyes I have earned what all of you have done for me.” Ryan turns to his wife and asks, “Tell me I’m a good man?”

Why does he ask? Ryan never got over the sacrifice Miller and his men made for his life. He appreciated what they did for him. He owed his life to them, a debt he could never repay. What else could he do but try to live a life worthy of the price that was paid for him?

We all can understand that. Perhaps no one has died to save our physical lives, but Jesus endured the agony of the cross so we could have the priceless gift of abundant life today and eternal life hereafter. We have been “bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Christ “died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15). While we can never repay Christ for what he did for us, we can live a life that honors his sacrifice. Embedded in the gospel of Jesus Christ is a call for response, an urgency to share it with others. That’s how we show appreciation.

Your ongoing witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ flows out of the internal motivations you properly feel for the one who died to set you free from the power and penalty of sin. My desire is that you will be captivated by three great, very personal motivations for sharing your faith. These were the motivations that compelled the apostle Paul and the early church to testify about the risen Christ, in spite of the danger they faced for telling the truth.

In the next entry we will look at the first and greatest motivation.

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The Importance of Holiness in Personal Evangelism Part 2 of 2

Knowing a Christian should live in harmony with God and God’s ways is one thing, but actually doing it is another. The expectation of Jesus was that we actually live what we believe. We are to love our enemies and pray for them. We are to turn the other cheek when one is struck. We are to go that extra mile of service to someone who needs our help. In short, we are to be and live the Sermon on the Mount as found in Matthew 5-7. How one lives in personal holiness to Christ ought to be the most natural thing for a disciple of Jesus to do. However, for most it’s not. We have not trained our minds and bodies to be holy. To make the change will involve time, the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study and memorization, service, and probably lots of personal repentance.

Holy Spirit,

Image by kelsey_lovefusionphoto via Flickr

To help with this I have written a personal spiritual preparation guide. This guide is included in the personal evangelism training course CROSS Training. Working through the acrostic CROSS below will help to prepare your heart, mind and body for effective evangelism.

Set aside plenty of time for you to meet with Christ. Strive to set all the things right with God and others so your witness will be what it should be. I don’t want anything to hold you back.

Confession: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

To “confess” means to “agree” with God about our sin. It is viewing sin from God’s perspective and turning from it. Do you have unconfessed sin in your life? Do you have sin in your life that causes you to live a defeated Christian life? It’s time to “agree” with God. Let Him remove it from your life. Spend time asking God to test your heart concerning your sin. Sin can be things you do, which you shouldn’t do. They can also be things you should do, which you are not doing. There are sins of thought, attitude and deeds. Confess your sins to God and let Him cleanse you.

Relationships: So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). “For If you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing” (Matthew 6: 14-15).

Broken relationships are a great hindrance to evangelism. When our relationships are wrong with others it is also wrong before God. There is no place for foolish pride in the life of a Christian. You are commanded by your Master to do the best to reconcile with others who may have something against you, whether it is justified or not. Ask yourself: Is there anyone I have offended and have not asked forgiveness? Am I harboring unforgiveness toward someone? Forgive them, so that your Heavenly Father may forgive you. Forgive for your own sake as well as for theirs. They will still have to answer to God for their sin, as will you. Seek restoration and forgive.

Obedience: If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15: 10-14). “I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

For Jesus, love is obedience. If you love Jesus, you will obey Jesus. His command is to love one another. Jesus says the whole world will know we are His people when we do this. How is your love for Jesus? Just check your obedience. Is there a part of your life you have not surrendered to God? Is there something you know God wants you to do, but you haven’t done it yet? How long will you make excuses or run from His perfect will? Are you doing things God has told you to stop? Then stop. You can say what you like, but you can’t fool God at all or others for long. Love is measured in obedience. Surrender the controls of your life to Him now. You know it’s the right thing to do. Then you will remain in Jesus’ love.

Speech: No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit, who sealed you for the day of redemption. All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ” (Ephesians 4:29-32).

How much does your daily speech match up with Ephesians 4:29-30? Do you say things about others that you shouldn’t? Have you been kind in your words? Have you treated others as well as God has treated you? Do you realize by the words of your mouth you can stifle the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? Have you exaggerated the truth? It’s called lying. Have you told inappropriate jokes? Would you tell Jesus what you have been telling others? Seek His forgiveness and help. Ask God to put a guard over your mouth.

Service: “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus…. He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5, 7-8). You are not your own, for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20).

How is your service to others? Are there some things you just won’t do? Do you have a poor attitude when asked to serve? Do you serve God the way you want to or the way God wants? Do you treat others as better than yourself? Have you made your faith about you and not about God? Are you in it for what you can get? What if God didn’t answer another prayer of yours for the rest of your life? Would you serve Him? The Bible says you do not belong to yourself, but to God. We are His servants. He is not ours.

What do you need to talk with God about now?

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The Importance of Holiness in Personal Evangelism, Part 1 of 2

I was on a college campus, speaking on the subject of personal and relational evangelism at a local campus ministry. After my talk was over, a student came up and asked if he could talk privately for a moment. We stepped outside and in the parking lot he said, “Jimmy, I’m a Christian but my suite mates don’t know that I’m a Christian. I’ve not lived in front of them like a Christian should live.” He went on to say, “I’ve been out drinking with them and to several parties. I’ve said things that a Christian shouldn’t be saying.” Then, with conviction in his voice, he asked, “How am I going to witness to them after I’ve lived like this?”

How indeed! What do you say to someone who now realizes his life can validate or nullify his words? In this young man’s case, totally nullify. Christendom doesn’t need another believer who says one thing but lives another. My first thought was to tell him not, under any circumstances, to tell his friends he is a Christian. But won’t solve the problem nor will it open a door to reaching his friends for Christ. Then came the second thought. Praise God for second thoughts. 

If this man wanted to set his life right before God and to do what God had sent him onto that campus to do, share Christ not just get a degree, then he would need to make some changes.

First, he needed to personally make sure his relationship with Christ was what it should be. That would involve repentance, among other things. Second, he needed to tell some of  his Christian friends and the director of the campus ministry about his situation, what he was going to do, and ask for prayer. Third, get his thoughts together on how he was going to handle the situation with his suite mates.  He needed to first of all go to them, whether individually or as a group and ask for their forgiveness. I suggested he say to them, “Guys, you’ve known me for several months, and in those months I have not been living like I should. This has bothered me and I want to make it right. I am a Christian but I’ve not been living like one. I have been a hypocrite. I am sorry and I ask for your forgiveness. Will you forgive me?”  Now these guys may not know what to say, but he have come clean with them. this may even be an opportunity for beginning a spiritual conversation. At the very least, these guys will be watching him very closely for awhile. This will be his opportunity to live in the forgiveness, grace and power of Christ.

When believers allow sin into their lives, it nullifies their ability to effectively share Christ. In fact, it will make a Christian not want to share. This kind of defeat will spread to other parts of their life as well. Prayer will suffer. Bible Study will suffer. Everything in their spiritual life will be brought down. The solution is to root out sin whenever and wherever it is found. Holiness is important in personal evangelism, but as you see, it is also important in the whole of your life. No sin is worth losing your peace with God and power for sharing Christ.

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